The Low Carbon Holiday Menu Part 1: Midwest

Giving Mother Earth a Gift This Holiday Season by Cooking Green.

Can a winter’s holiday feast be local and sustainable? It doesn’t seem such an easy task, even for a locavore like myself as I contemplate turnips, a few remaining pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Even so, with some resourcefulness and help from regional chefs of the Bon Appetit Management Company, we can all have a Low-Carbon Christmas — even in the frozen tundra of the upper Midwest.

Bon Apetit, a company that offers corporations, universities and colleges onsite catering and food service with a commitment to sustainable, local cuisine, had four of its chefs from various regions of the country put together low-carbon, high-flavor menus for the season.

The regions include Upper Midwest (follows), Northeast, West Coast and Southeast. Each of the menus will be featured in an Eat Drink Better post beginning with the upper Midwest menu, below.

General tips for parties and seasonal gathering that keep things low carbon include not using bottled water or disposable dinnerware. Don’t use bottled water and compost food waste as much as possible. Use less beef and dairy products.

Menu after the jump.

Upper Midwest Holiday Party Menu
Recipes from Bon Appetit Management Company’s Chef Chris Lamkin, at Café Target in Minneapolis, MN
Chef Lamkin says:  The Low Carbon Diet seeks to reduce greenhouse gasses generated by our food system.  To cut CO2 emissions from transportation, a low carbon menu must be seasonal and regional, even during the cold holiday season in the upper Midwest.  This means salad greens replaced by dark, leafy greens; summer berries and stonefruit replaced with cranberries and apples; and perishable vegetables.

Party Holiday Menu:
Steamed spaghetti squash with pumpkin seed pesto, cider braised lacinato kale and cranberry-apple relish
A simple, healthy and sustainable way to savor the flavors of the holiday season. Ingredients were sourced from these Minneapolis Farms; Hidden Stream Farms, Eric and Lisa Klein, Elgin, MN 507-876-2304; Fairview Farms, Plainview,Mn; From the Earth Farm, Rochester, Mn; Whitewater Gardens, Altura, Mn.

Serve as a first course or as an accompaniment to turkey, chicken or pork.

Menu Steps
1.     Prepare pumpkin seed pesto
2.     Prepare Cranberry-apple Relish
3.     Prepare Braised Kale
4.     Wash and cut in half 2 medium squash, steam until tender, about 15 minutes.  Using a fork, scrape the flesh out into long strands.  Salt and pepper to taste.

To Plate:
1.     Toss squash with pesto to coat
2.     Mound kale in center of the plate, letting some liquid run onto the plate.
3.     Mound squash atop kale
4.     Spoon cranberries atop squash
5.     Drizzle plate with wildflower honey or maple syrup.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
½ Cup toasted pumpkin seeds
½ Cup grated, local Parrano cheese
3 Teaspoons lemon zest
½ Cup Italian parsley
½ Cup cilantro
2 Cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon salt
½ Teaspoon black pepper
2/3 Cup grape seed oil
1/3 Cup pumpkin seed oil
1.     Place all ingredients in a food processor except grape seed and pumpkin oils and blend until smooth.
2.     Pour in oils and blend one minute.

Cranberry-Apple Relish
2 Cups washed, fresh cranberries
2 Each peeled and cored tart apples
1 North American orange, skin on, cut into quarters
1 ½ Cups granulated sugar
1/8 Teaspoon 5 spice
1.     Run fruit through a grinder with a medium blade or pulse in a food processor, being careful not to over process.
2.     Mix in the sugar and 5 spice, let sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes.

Cider Braised Kale
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 Shallots, peeled and diced
2 Bunches Lacinato kale
½ Cup apple cider
½ Cup cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1.     Sautee shallots in grape seed oil until translucent
2.     Add greens and cook until wilted.
3.     Add apple cider and vinegar, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes.

Image © Jon Le-bon |

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